Volunteers and Friend of GT Scholars – Volunteer this summer!

Volunteers and Friend of GT Scholars – Volunteer this summer!

Volunteers

Top of the morning to you on this awesome Friday! Hope you are looking forward to the official start of summer this weekend! This week’s newsletter includes some great volunteer opportunities you can get involved in this summer. Curious to find out more? Read on for more details!

Invite us to Speak!
As you know, we are all about creating more opportunities for young people, especially those from low-income backgrounds, to succeed in school and beyond. We would love to share more about what we do with people so that we can increase our reach and help even more young people in need! If you know of any forums or speaking engagements you think we could be a part of to make this happen, then please get in touch with me to chat further.

Did you know!
Foster Care Fortnight, the Fostering Network’s annual campaign to bring awareness to the way foster care transforms lives, took place last week. One of the things highlighted is the large number of young people living in care who struggle with educational attainment and reaching their aspirations. One of the ways you can help to spread awareness about young people living in care is to write a blog post for our website. A blog post is a great way for you to share your thoughts with our scholars and parents, not only about young people living in care, but also on education, social mobility, and careers. If you’d like to be a guest blogger, you can get in touch with me or find out more here.

Follow us on social media!
We would love for you to follow us on any of our social media platforms so that you can like, share and comment on our posts and also share other posts you think would make for an interesting blog post! Join the conversation on our Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram pages.

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. Our after-school tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programme is designed to help young people aged 11-18 achieve their academic and career aspirations. Visit our website if you’d like to know more about the GT Scholars Programme and how you can make a significant difference in young people’s lives.

Volunteers and Friends of GT Scholars – Be a part of the action!

Volunteers and Friends of GT Scholars – Be a part of the action!

Friends of GT Scholars Volunteers

As we come to the end of another week, we hope that yours has been an awesome one! To all our volunteers that are helping to make this term a great one, we send a big thank you. If you feel like you’re missing out on the volunteer action, then read on for more details about our volunteer opportunities.

Event volunteers needed!
On Wednesday 29th May 2019, we’re running a workshop at the Rio Tinto offices in London from 10am to 4pm. We still need volunteers, workshop facilitators and event coordinators for this workshop. Please let me know if you’re available to help on the day and I’ll get in touch to share more details with you.

Quick and easy volunteer opportunities
If you want to volunteer this term but you just don’t have the time to commit to tutoring or mentoring, then we have some great opportunities for you! From guest blogging to helping out at events, there are many other ways to volunteer with us. Find out more by reading this blog and if you find a way that best suits you, please feel free to get in touch with me.

The Fight for Social Mobility
The Social Mobility Commission released its annual State of the Nation report recently. According to the report, the gap in attainment between pupils from low-income backgrounds and their peers resulted in only 16% of this group getting the equivalent of two A Levels, compared with 39% of other pupils. This shows that a lot more needs to be done to support pupils from low-income backgrounds. If you would like to volunteer to help these pupils get the support they need, please get in touch with me.

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. Our after-school tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programme is designed to help young people aged 11-18 achieve their academic and career aspirations. Visit our website if you’d like to know more about the GT Scholars Programme and how you can make a significant difference in young people’s lives.

Why It Is Important For Our Volunteers To Receive Safeguarding Training

Why It Is Important For Our Volunteers To Receive Safeguarding Training

Volunteers What's new?

As part of the recruitment process, all of our volunteers have to undergo safeguarding training. One of the first things to understand about safeguarding training is that it is not limited to young people only. Safeguarding training is implemented in order to ensure the welfare of many different types of individuals, particularly young people, but also vulnerable adults to protect them from any potential harm. 

This would include protection from any form of abuse and mistreatment and creating a safe environment in which they are able to develop in a healthy and safe space. Safeguarding looks to minimise the physical and mental risks that young people can be exposed to by those that work with them.  

It is imperative that all volunteers that work with and would like to work with young people or vulnerable adults receive sufficient safeguarding training. It is also a legal requirement and all organisations must have a safeguarding policy in place. Here are a few reasons why safeguarding training is important for our volunteers.

Awareness
One of the important aspects of safeguarding training for volunteers is that it helps you to identify and be aware of specific signs of abuse, neglect and vulnerability amongst the young people you are working with. This allows you to actively monitor the young people you are in contact with and to be consciously aware of their wellbeing. Safeguarding also allows you to be aware of any potential psychological and physical risks regarding the work you are doing with the young people you are responsible for.

Conduct
Safeguarding training equips you with the right tools you need to conduct yourself professionally with the young people you will be working with. It teaches you how to approach and deal with situations that may arise concerning the young people in your care and how best to ensure a conducive, safe and healthy environment for them. Safeguarding training also helps to ensure your own safety and how to conduct yourself in sensitive situations that may arise when working with young people or vulnerable adults.

Clarity
Safeguarding training helps you to know what your role is and how to best fulfil it when working together with young people. It sets out clear-cut boundaries that are helpful in understanding what is required of you in terms of your skills, experience and time commitment. The training also provides well-defined procedures and rules to adhere to according to the organisation you are working for. You learn how to report particular incidents and how to safeguard sensitive information pertaining to the young people you will be working with as well as the organisation. Safeguarding training also helps you to keep a sense of perspective and proportion between benefits and risks involved with the volunteer role you will be taking on. Through the safeguarding training, you are able to determine whether you are able to commit to what is required of you.

Reassurance
It is important as a volunteer that you are sufficiently trained in order to reassure the parents of the young people you will be working with. Parents need to know that their children are in good hands when dealing with organisations who work with their children and the staff and volunteers who are a part of that organisation. This is why organisations run DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks. DBS checks not only provide some reassurance for parents but they also help to protect organisations and young people. It creates transparency for all parties involved and helps organisations and parents know more about the volunteers. It is an essential safety precaution. 

Communication
Safeguarding training allows for effective channels of communication to be formed and developed.  As a volunteer, you need to be able to communicate well, not only with the organisation you work for but also with the young people in your care. This creates a trusting and safe environment for them to be able to relay their needs and wellbeing to you.

Knowledge
Safeguarding training also provides an opportunity for you as a volunteer to get to know more about the organisation you are applying to work for and the more intricate details of how the organisation operates. It gives you an insight into their procedures and approaches that are set in place in dealing with the young people you will be working with. 

Overall, safeguarding training is there to help ensure the safety and protection of the individuals, particularly young people that are exposed to working with volunteers and other individuals who oversee their care in whichever form. It is set in place in order to help equip you as a volunteer and help with preparing you for your role when dealing with young people or vulnerable adults. This will allow you to do your best as a volunteer and it will create an efficient, safe and healthy working environment. 

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. Our after-school tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programme is designed to help young people aged 11-18 achieve their academic and career aspirations. Visit our website if you’d like to know more about the GT Scholars Programme and how you can make a significant difference in young people’s lives.

Communication tips for volunteer tutors and mentors

Communication tips for volunteer tutors and mentors

Volunteers What's new?

Good communication is usually taken for granted in environments where adults work together since there is the assumption that everyone has the necessary communication skills to interact with people on a daily basis. However, when engaging with young people, one needs to pay close attention to good communication as it is an essential part of ensuring successful outcomes for them.

Good communication is central to working with young people as it fosters trust, and trust is necessary for building and maintaining relationships with them. This will allow them to reach their full potential as they will feel supported because they trust that you have their best interests at heart. So understanding what good communication involves is essential when working with young people.

Good communication is an active process
This entails being responsive and engaging when working with young people. More specifically, good communication requires active listening. Active listening is responding to cues while restating and drawing out the meaning of what the person is saying, combined with the expression of warmth, empathy and acceptance. Being responsive and making an effort to understand what the young person is communicating results in the young person becoming more confident as they feel that their thoughts and feelings have value.

Good communication does not just refer to the words we use
Good communication also refers to how we say things as the tone in which something is said can sometimes communicate more to a young person than the words that were used. There are also several forms of communication such as visual communication, body language, and sign language. The responsibility lies with the volunteer to identify which form of communication the young person is most receptive to. This will ensure that they understand the tasks they are given.
It is also important to note that the young person’s preferred form of communication may be influenced by personal factors such as culture or language. It is key that volunteers take the young person’s context into consideration when identifying the best form of communication for them, and be able to adapt communication styles as necessary.

Good communication involves being non-judgemental and approachable
It is important to be aware of how our attitude can affect young people. One should be supportive and reaffirming when communicating so that the young person does not feel judged and become closed-off or difficult to communicate with. When a young person feels comfortable, they are more likely to express themselves. In order to create an environment where the young person can openly communicate, a volunteer can use open questions. Open questions are a great communication tool as they encourage the young person to open up since they do not require definitive yes or no answers. Open questions encourage the young person to discuss their answer instead of giving one worded answers, and this helps develop good communication. You can learn more about open questions here.

Consider what stage of development the young person is in
To be able to develop communication styles and work strategies that encourage the young person’s participation, it is necessary to be aware of the needs of the young person. For example, if a young person is at risk of under-achievement, it is important to use language that does not intimidate the learner or make it seem that it is impossible for them to achieve their academic goals.
Conversely, if the young person has been working well and their levels of understanding are improving, the volunteer must communicate with them in a way that reflects that they recognise the improvements that the young person is making. This encourages good communication and helps develop the young person’s confidence when engaging with their work, as they will be able to recognise that they are making improvements and that they are capable.

Be aware of the barriers to good communication
There may be barriers to good communication which often discourages the young person from wanting to communicate. Firstly, ordering a young person to do something discourages communication. This is because young people do not like feeling as though they have no choice in the decisions involving them. A better way would be to discuss options with the young person or explain why they need to do something. This allows them to feel like their opinion matters and develops their self-confidence, which can foster good communication in the long term.
Another barrier to good communication is speaking with a threatening tone. An example of this would be saying something like: “If you keep doing this, you will fail the year” or “You better do this or else that will happen”. Communicating this way is negative and very discouraging for the young person which decreases their confidence in their abilities. So it is important to remember to use reaffirming and encouraging language that motivates the young person to keep working hard.

Your communication skills can influence how the young person will continue to communicate going into their future. Good communication with young people can help develop their self-confidence, which goes a long way in developing a positive attitude. So it is important for the volunteer to always be aware of how they communicate with young people by adopting and adapting the appropriate communication style for each young person they work with.

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.

5 Discussion Topics for Volunteer Mentors to Include in Their Mentoring Sessions

5 Discussion Topics for Volunteer Mentors to Include in Their Mentoring Sessions

Volunteers What's new?

As a mentor, you want to help build your mentee’s self-confidence and help them to be more positive and goal-orientated, while also making sure that they are well-adjusted to the world around them. But how will you go about doing this during your mentoring sessions?

The easiest way to achieve this is to make sure you pay attention to your discussion points during each mentoring session. Discussion points help you to get to know your mentee better so that you can advise them and help them to come up with the right strategies to reach their goals. Here are five discussion points that will help get you started.

Ask them about their interests and hobbies
A great way to get to know your mentee would be to discuss their interests and hobbies. Finding out what they like to do in their spare time can help you find a common ground to gain their trust. It is also good to start with this to help your mentee to feel more relaxed and open. Everyone has at least one hobby that they love to do, so this will most certainly get them talking. From this, you will be able to expand the discussion.
For example, if reading is their hobby, you can discuss some of the books they’ve read and why they enjoyed some titles more than others. If it is music, you can discuss some of the artists they prefer listening to and why they may be more drawn to those artists. This can help you to understand more about them as a person.
It would also be useful for you to do some research on their hobbies and interests so that you can relate to them and encourage them to tell you more about themselves.

Find out what their favourite subject at school is
Finding out their favourite subject will help you to further identify with your mentee. It will help you to understand what they are good at since most people tend to like a subject that they excel in. From this, you can develop an understanding of the way they think. If they like maths, then you will know that their mind is more analytical and numerical, or if they like art, then you will know that their mind is more creative, and so on.
You can then find use this understanding to delve into other topics such as career goals.

Ask them about their strengths
Beyond their interests and favourite subjects, you can also directly ask them about their strengths. This can include an aspect of their personality that they may be proud of or a soft skill that they may have. For example, your mentee may feel that their strength is their patience or that they can communicate very well. If your mentee shares these personal attributes, it means that they are becoming more comfortable with sharing a more personal side of themselves with you – this is a big step in the mentoring process.
Sometimes they may not be aware of their personal strengths. This will be the perfect opportunity to tell them about a positive trait that you have noticed in them. It is always good to show your mentee the positive qualities that they possess to build up their self-confidence.

Talk about their career goals
One of the main aims of the mentoring programme is to help young people to reach their career aspirations. So it is always a good idea to discuss what your mentee would like to do after school and which career path they want to take.
Usually, they will have an idea of what they would like to do after school. In this case, you can help by shedding more light on the career they have chosen to follow, including providing a detailed explanation of what is required of them and what the actual job entails. This can include practical tips such as what they need to study in school, which university should they go to, should they do an apprenticeship etc.
Sometimes a young person may not know what career path they would like to pursue. In this case, you can help by looking at their interests and their favourite subjects in school. From this, you should be able to come up with a list of careers paths that your mentee might be inclined to. You can then discuss each career path in detail while encouraging them to decide for themselves.

Ask them where they see themselves in 5 or 10 years from now
Discussing their future will encourage them to raise their aspirations and work towards their goals. This can also perfectly tie up everything you may have gone through with the first four discussion points.
If you know their future goals, you can also help to set them up on the right path to achieve them. For example, if your mentee wants to study at Oxbridge, you can assist them by explaining the application process or helping them to write the best personal statement.

These discussion points are a great start to your mentoring sessions. However, every mentee is different and they may have different needs or may want to discuss different topics. You should always keep your mentee’s interests as the priority, while still maintaining control of the direction of your mentoring sessions. This will make your mentoring sessions both impactful and insightful.

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.

Volunteers and Friends of GT Scholars – We need Volunteer English Tutors, can you help?

Volunteers and Friends of GT Scholars – We need Volunteer English Tutors, can you help?

Friends of GT Scholars

Happy New Year! We’re excited for 2019 and have an exciting line up ahead of us, but I’ll tell you more about that later. For now, I’d just like to tell you about a few things before the weekend kicks off.

We’re looking for Volunteer English tutors to join us this term!
A lot of our scholars are in need of English tuition. We’re looking for graduates or undergraduates that studied English up to A-level or a degree that required some knowledge of the English language. You’ll need to be able to volunteer for 1 hour a week throughout the term which is 12 weeks. If you might be able to help, please reply this email or if you know someone else that could help, please feel free to forward this email to them and they can get in touch through the contact page on the website.

Volunteer and inspire young people living in care!
The Raising Aspirations Programme focuses on Looked After Children aged 12 to 15. We are looking for volunteers and workshop facilitators to be part of this programme and help inspire these young people. The first step to get started is to attend our LAC training day on Wednesday the 23rd of January. Visit our Eventbrite page to register your attendance!

Would you like to feature in our Volunteer Spotlight?
Our Volunteer Spotlight is our way of drawing special attention to our amazing volunteers and sharing more about them and their motivation for volunteering. If you’ve volunteered as a tutor, mentor or helped out at one or more of our events in the past term, we’d love for you to feature in our next Spotlight. Please feel free to send me a quick email if you’d like to get involved.

Have a wonderful weekend!

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. Our after-school tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programme is designed to help young people aged 11-18 achieve their academic and career aspirations. Visit our website if you’d like to know more about the GT Scholars Programme and how you can make a significant difference in young people’s lives.